Ferrari was hopeful of ending an eight-year wait for a win at its home track after taking the front two places on the grid at the Italian GP for the first time since 2000 but pole-sitter Raikkonen was overtaken by Hamilton eight laps from the end and the Mercedes driver held on, much to the disappointment of the passionate Italian tifosi fans.
As Hamilton claimed the second apex and took the position from Vettel, the Ferrari driver was spun round and sustained damage to his front wing and the floor of his auto.
He dropped down the field while Hamilton went on to pass Raikkonen and now enjoys a 30-point lead over Vettel in the world championship. I left him space, but it was me who was the one who spun around.
"I was surprised that Sebastian went to the left but then we got into Turn 1 and I think there was a small touch between us all and then powering down to turn four, again, a bit surprised Sebastian chose the inside and not go through the outside of Kimi. that was my opportunity".
Lewis Hamilton believes the intensity of his Formula One fight with Sebastian Vettel is the greatest he has ever experienced. I saw on the screens that he had spun but that definitely took a lot of pressure off from behind and meant that I could just focus on Kimi for the whole race, and it's great as we had a couple of good battles at the restart.
"We have a different style, but I miss him a lot".
The Dutchman was handed a five-second time penalty by which time Hamilton was leading, having passed Raikkonen on the outside at the Rettifilo.
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"I thought it should be just the nose, I didn't see all the bits on the side, but when I got going again it was quite frightful to drive".
He insisted his conviction that Ferrari was now faster than Mercedes meant the fact his championship deficit to Hamilton was the biggest it had been all year was nothing to be concerned about. "It definitely happens in football and probably here more than I've noticed in others but it is the way it is", added the Briton.
"I think it was 100 per cent Sebastian's fault", Rosberg told Sky F1. Unfortunately we didn't deliver, but then what can you do.
Hamilton's overtaking move on Vettel was investigated by the stewards but they took no action, deeming it a racing incident.
"Disappointed but there was nothing I could do", said Raikkonen, who struggled with a tire problem in the final few laps.
Vettel's failure to take pole leaves him without a buffer to Hamilton on the charge to the opening bend here on Sunday.
"To know that I am up there with Michael is always a real privilege". However, he said that he's "not too worried" about the championship situation. "It is very hard for people watching who are not in it to feel what we feel".